Monday, September 8, 2008

Writer Teaching Writing

Last week Nell began writing a story about building a house out of blocks for her guinea pigs, Chizzle and Sammy. Since she had just built said housing, we decided to write the piece from the perspective of a journalist. Or a memoirist. We talked about how it could be funnier if we added bits that didn't actually happen. We talked about the "difference" between fact and fiction and the hazy line in between.

Nell started by making a chronological list of everything that happened (as per the instructions in our writing book, Writing Strands 2). On the second day of the assignment, she wrote the story up. She was not nearly as happy doing this as she was making the list. The writing was good, but I was surprised by how bad the spelling was. Words she absolutely knows like "house" and "other" were misspelled. I suspect that she was so caught up in the creative process that her spelling skills went out the window.

A weekend intervened, and today was Day 3. I circled all of the misspelled words and wrote them correctly spelled under her story. I instructed her to re-write the story using correct spelling. Being a writer of sorts myself, I love the editing process. Fixing up existing writing, to my mind, is much easier and more enjoyable than the blood-from-a-stone-process of coming up with new ideas.

Nell disagreed wholeheartedly. She did not want to do this re-writing assignment. She stalled and sulked and kept telling me that she couldn't pay attention. I thought this would be easy-peasy. Evidently I was wrong. I toyed with the idea of giving up. I don't want to stifle her writing this early in the game. But I persevered. I sat with her while she re-wrote line by line with neat printing on writing paper. The minute she finished, her mood brightened, and all was well again.

I took it easy on her for the rest of the day. We played math games and then went to the Book Barn, an amazing used book store with goats and cats and a playground.

We found frogs.

The boys found a cat.

And a random woman offered to take a photo of the boys and me.

I gave the camera to Nell and she snapped one of me.

I look like a brand new homeschooling mother just doing her best to get through the day. A little bit harried, a little bit tired, a little bit thrilled to be outside with all of her kids in the middle of weekday at the beginning of September.

Sweet Jesus, I look 100.

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